Nuggets close out 1st half with 113-103 win at Indiana

Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Denver forward Michael Porter Jr. struggled at the start of the Nuggets’ recent 10-game stretch.

He finished it with a flurry.

Porter had 24 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night, outshining Nikola Jokic, in leading the Denver Nuggets past Indiana 113-103.

“Every great player goes through stretches like this,” Porter said. “But I knew I would get out of it and I couldn’t wait to have that one big game. Then once you get it, it just starts flowing.”

Porter has five double-doubles in the last six games, a stark contrast from an 0 for 8 performance Feb. 16, the first of eight road games in a 10-game stretch.

But with Porter rolling and Jokic playing at his usual All-Star level, the Nuggets are rolling. They’ve won four straight road games for the first time since 2011-12.

And everyone has a part. While Jokic had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Jamal Murray finished with 23 points, his 12th straight with 22 or more.

“We’ve been a team that thrives in adversity,” coach Michael Malone said. “We’re very resilient, a ton of grit and we never find excuses. We find solutions.”

The Pacers need to find some fixes, too, after losing for the fifth time in six games and their fifth straight at home.

Indiana was led by Myles Turner’s 22 points and a season-high tying 12 rebounds. Domantas Sabonis had his fourth triple-double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Denver made it look relatively easy, too.

It took control early in the second quarter then pulled out to a 66-54 lead early in the third. But after the Pacers tied the score at 68, Denver outscored Indiana 14-6 over the final 5 1/2 minutes of the third and sealed the victory with a 12-0 spurt midway through the fourth.

“They came out and made shots,” Sabonis said. “They were well prepared and they made shots.”

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Will Barton had 16 points and six rebounds. … Denver had 19 turnovers but shot 58.4% from the field and was 12 of 28 on 3s. … The Nuggets improved to 12-8 on the road this season. … Denver leads the all-time series with Indiana 47-46.

Pacers: Turner had three blocks to extend the league’s longest active streak of consecutive games with at least one to 51. … Sabonis also had four steals. … One day after T.J. McConnell recorded the second triple-double of his career, he finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. … Doug McDermott had 20 points and Justin Holiday had 16. … This is the latest in the season the Pacers have been under .500 since going 39-40 in 2016-17.

PULLING THROUGH

The Nuggets won despite being severely short-handed Thursday. Three players — guards Facundo Campazzo, R.J. Hampton and Markus Howard — all missed the game because of the COVID-19 protocols. Forwards Paul Millsap (sprained left knee) and JaMychal Green (sprained left shoulder) also sat out, along with with guard Gary Harris (strained left abductor muscle). Harris played high school basketball at nearby Hamilton Southeastern and was the state’s 2012 Mr. Basketball Award winner.

INJURY UPDATE

Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said recently acquired forward Caris LeVert participated in Tuesday’s light workout and has been doing one-on-one work at practice. LeVert was acquired in a January trade from Houston but has not played since the deal after having a cancerous growth removed from his kidney. “He’s been back in contact for a few days now,” Bjorkgren said. “That practice (Tuesday) wasn’t a lot of competing and physicality, but he was in everything we did and he was in one-on-one. I see more of that coming.”

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Make the final stop of a five-game trip March 12 at Memphis.

Pacers: Open the second half March 12 at the Los Angeles Lakers.

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